Keys to the Season: Oklahoma Sooners

With the College Football season on the horizon and hopefully a full schedule awaiting us in 2021, we start to look at the teams most likely to feature at the sharp end of things. We hope to give you a brief look at a handful of hot topics that could dictate the success of their year. It could be a player stepping into a role, an apparent hole on the roster or a strength that opposition teams will struggle to deal with. 

The Oklahoma Sooners dropped a bombshell recently, announcing their intention to turn their back on the Big 12 conference and pursue a place in the SEC. While the move would see them cash in and create a borderline super conference, it could make their path to the playoffs more difficult. It was a path they didn’t tread last year, and with the SEC a dream for a few years yet the Sooners must focus on returning to the final four.

Headline Grabbing Transfers Should Help Improve Sooner Offense

Lincoln Riley has become accustomed to using the transfer portal to improve his high-powered offense. The likes of Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts are all examples who immediately upgraded their position groups. This time Riley has the QB, but wants to bolster the surrounding talent.

For that he raided Tennessee. Running back Eric Gray is one of the most talented players at his position in the country and gives the Sooners a two headed monster, paired with returning Kennedy Brooks. Gray’s lateral agility is elite and he will force opposing defenses to stay honest when planning for Spencer Rattler. 

In front of Gray will be a familiar face in Wanya Morris. He had an up and down season in 2020, but who didn’t in Tennessee? Morris is an imposing 6’5″ and is solid against the run. Although Azeez Ojulari gave him the run around last year, he may find life slightly easier in the Big 12 rather than the SEC.

Defensive Line Duo Set To Shine But Who Is Better?

Nick Bonitto is taking most of the early season plaudits on the Oklahoma defense. As the running mate of Ronnie Perkins, he bagged himself 8 sacks and a place on PFF’s All American team. At 6’3, he currently projects as an outside backer, winning with quicks and speed more often than bulk strength. Teams will be hoping he can show his versatility as a base end and speed rusher in 2021.

While Bonitto ruffled the most feathers last year, teammate Isaiah Thomas could end up being more liked in NFL circles. He fits the defensive end prototype better with a 6’5, 267lbs frame. With Perkins and Bonitto rushing from the edge, Thomas had to do his bit on the interior of the defensive line. That ability to kick inside will be another feather in his cap. If the focus is heavy on Bonitto don’t expect Thomas to stay quiet for long.

Emerging Star Needed From Off-Ball Defenders

While the Sooners’ defensive line should cause headaches for opponents, Oklahoma could do with some talent coming to the fore behind them. Should they find a couple of playmakers, it could transform the defense into a title contender ready to compete with Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State. The two that stand out on tape are Brian Asamoah and Woodi Washington.

Asamoah is a livewire at the second level. At 6’1 he is small for the linebacker position and you would be forgiven for thinking he was a safety playing in the box. He still packs a punch in the tackle and his lack of bulk gives him the sideline-to-sideline speed the modern game craves. His stats demonstrate clearly his label as a ‘do it all’ linebacker. In 2020, he contributed 2 sacks, 5 tackles for loss and 5 pass deflections. A bumper year packed with production could help overcome any doubts NFL teams have over his stature.

At defensive back, corner Woodi Washington flashed plenty of potential on last year’s tape. Having redshirted his first year, he appeared in ten games during 2020. It wasn’t faultless, as so often with cornerbacks, but there were certainly glimpses of his high end potential – the highlights being picks against Texas and Florida in the bowl game. It will need a big step up from Washington but he is certainly a name to keep tabs on.

Mock Draft

Rory-Joe Daniels

Cfb contributor

formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at